The Porter County
Commissioners made it clear Tuesday that safety for employees is a priority
of theirs, approving the installation of panic buttons at the County
Administration Building, the North County Complex in Portage and the Expo
“All three of you
have discussed the importance of safety countywide. This is one of those
efforts,” said County Facilities Director Matt Stechly as he presented
quotes for panic alarm systems for the three venues. The security upgrades
were suggested to him by Commissioner Jim Biggs, R-North.
If someone in these
buildings were to become hostile, the panic alarm button would send a signal
to security or to the County’s 911 center to dispatch law enforcement
quickly, said Stechly.
approved the lowest quote submitted by ABC Burglar and Fire Alarm, of Gary,
at $1,143 for the North County Complex. The lowest submitting quote for the
Expo Center at $280 and the Administration Center at $720 were submitted by
Martin Security Systems, of Valparaiso. Another vendor submitting bids was
Videotec, of Highland.
The security alarm
system will be put into the offices of the Assessor, Treasurer, Auditor,
Stormwater Management and the County Commissioner Chambers at the County
Stechly said he had
hoped to present quotes for a security alarm system upgrade at the Juvenile
Detention Center on Ind. 2 but the system there now is too “convoluted” and
will need to be worked out at a later date. The alarms at the Porter County
Courthouse are however working fine, he said.
also approved replacing the card lock for the door to the Treasurer’s
Office. Commissioner President Jeff Good, R-Center, said he would like to
see card access in all buildings. “This is where it’s all heading,” he said.
On another matter,
Stechly told the Commissioners his crew is handling mulching work on their
own whereas the County had been paying $60,000 per year to an outside
We’re trimming trees. We’re sodding. It’s in-house. The investments into the
facilities department has been paid off time and time again, so thank you to
you and the County Council members who voted to support it,” Stechly said.
decided to allocate CCD funds, totaling $150,000, towards replacing vehicles
for the Porter County Sheriff’s Police from the state’s police vehicle
Reynolds said the plan follows previous year in purchasing nine new
vehicles, which would be about $329,000, and putting nine others up for
“We try to take
cars out at a safe mileage. We are pushing the envelope with some of these
cars,” Reynolds said.
Along with the CCD
funds, Reynolds said he would approach the County Council about using
unallocated county local income tax funds to make up the difference, which
would be $179,000.
Good and Biggs also
discussed with Reynolds about searching for ways to better service and
insure the 100-plus vehicles that the PCSP has in its fleet.
In other business,
the Commissioners approved the Sheriff’s police updating its services with
NITCO wireless internet service. The service has been repriced at a lower
rate and the speed has improved since the last set up in 2013.
Commissioners said yes to the County Assessor’s Office contracting with Equi-Val
Tax Solutions LLC, of Elkhart, which specializes in tax preparation.
County Assessor Jon
Snyder said Equi-Val has an automated tax valuation model that can settle
tax appeals faster.
“It helps our staff
be able to quickly and efficiently look at an appeal file with quick access
to do and make it quick to settle an appeal. It’s also a helpful tool to
take to the (Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals) and to the state tax
board,” said Snyder. “It’s a good service that saves a lot of time and
that’s important in our office.”
Snyder said there
is now room in his budget to pay for the $20,000 contract. He hopes his
office will incur more savings after its computer system adapts to the
County’s IT Department next month.
For the Development
and Stormwater Management Offices, the Commissioners approved a scanning
services agreement with SBS Group Information and Records Associates.
Department Director Robert Thompson said they will scan records from the
Plan Commission and Building Department, a project that “is long overdue”
and will create more available space in the office.
At the end of their
meeting, the Commissioners voted 3-0 to create a new resolution in support
of an Economic Development District in Northwest Indiana.
Jody Melton, senior
planner for the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission, said Porter
County had passed a resolution for the creation of an economic district with
the other counties in 2014 to submit paperwork to the U.S. Economic
Development Administration so the region could be eligible to receive funds.
Melton said the EDA
never returned communication until last month but by that time the
resolutions were considered too old and they asked that new ones be
NIRPC had formed a
committee in 2009 to receive EDA funds after heavy rains caused major
flooding issues in 2008. The EDA grants money for improvements but only to
established economic development districts, Melton said.
“President Trump is
cutting out money from the EDA in his budget so maybe this is all a waste of
time, but we’ve been working on this for eight years and we would at least
like to get the designation as long as the EDA continues to function so we
may have a chance to go after some of those funds,” he said.
Melton said there
is no cost or obligation to Porter County for passing the resolution.
In other approvals:
Commissioners passed, on second readings and final adoption, the U.S. 6
overlay standards and a conservation district rate for the County’s
Stormwater Management User Fee of 11.5 cents per month per acre.
-- The Valparaiso
Democratic Committee will be allowed to hold a rally on Saturday, April 22
on the Porter County Courthouse’s north lawn from 3 to 5 p.m. to raise
awareness of environmental issues in the community and collect bottled water
for distribution in East Chicago.
-- The Soil and
Water Conservation District will set up a display in the County
Administration Building rotunda from May 1 to May 5 in observation of Soil
-- Bids for
bituminous material were approved for the County Highway Department.